The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

All Hail The Chief

Throughout recorded history, and very likely well before, humans have sought and supported kings, queens, emperors, and other leaders. Sometimes just tribal chiefs, sometimes Caesars, Pharaohs, Czars, prime ministers, presidents, and tyrants.

My question is "Why?" No matter how bad the leader might be, he (or she) will have sufficient support to gain the office and to retain it. People will kill, die, and suffer great harm to put them in charge. And we seem to want these leaders (even the bad ones) to have a great amount of power.

I think the human political power structure is based on the traditional family model. A strong father, an obedient wife (second in command), and subservient children. Look at king (or whatever the leader is called) as the father and the populace of a country as the dutiful but subservient children.

The military is structured this way (and has always been). When you think about it, the American Revolution resulted in a different model but not so different as one might think. Our system limits not only the power of the "king" but divides that power among elected people who ostensibly have a limited term. Did you know, though, that some of the founders wanted a king and offered that title to George Washington? He rejected it. They could not envision a government that was not ruled by one man.

Even today, we look at our president as a powerful figure. And he does have great power compared to the average citizen.

I upset a lot of bosses when I treated them as just another employee. But that is who they are. Same for CEOs and other executives. Certainly they had more power than the average employee and certainly they made much more money but they were all still just employees.

Even the communist systems suffer from this. While they claim to empower the people, they make them subservient to the state and the state is represented by the party bosses and, often, a single ruler. 

The ancient Greek Democracies weren't very democratic. Only the elites, the monied, the powerful, could vote. And the Greeks invented the term "tyrant."The Roman Republic was also run in much the same way. There were slaves, of course, who had no rights (much less a vote). And the Roman Republic was much more complex than the Greek systems. But there was always an elite (the Patricians in the Roman version) and these tended to gravitate to power.

I have come to the conclusion that humans do not actually believe in, or even want, complete equality. And it would likely be chaotic at best.


Joe Pereira said...

Interesting post Douglas - I've often wondered why some leaders get to power, such as Hitler, Mugabe and many more and maybe it is just as you say. As social animals we must have a hierarchy in order to function collectively, and the wrong leader, it appears, is better than no leader. Just as in the animal kingdom, I guess

Douglas said...

A conundrum, Joe. We admire (and, contradictorily, despise) a strong leader, especially in hard times (real or perceived).

T.C. said...

Sociopathic and psychopathic leaders kill and cheat their way to the top. To me it's simple.

The thing about the Ancient Greeks and Romans is that while they had their share of tyranny, their greatest epochs came when tax rates and collection was benign and fair.

I think that's an oft overlooked fact. People get seriously pissed off when they feel the government takes too much. To their credit, the Ancients were often aware of this.

I don't know about the Americans - outside what I read - but the IRS seems like a pretty oppressive entity. Here in Canada, the leader of the socialist NDP used the word 'confiscatory' to describe one of his candidate's suggestion to bring in an insane 70% tax rate.

We're already waaayyy overtaxed here.

I digress.